What Happened: Shortly after New York-based skincare label Elizabeth Arden launched its White Tea Skin Solutions series in early 2022, it was fined $2,750 (20,000 RMB) for allegedly misleading consumers.
In July this year, the Market Supervision and Administration Bureau of Shanghai Huangpu district disclosed that on February 4, 2022, Elizabeth Arden’s official Douyin account had released a video advertisement claiming that consumers could purchase the brand’s new White Tea Skin Solutions complete skincare set for the price of two cups of bubble tea.
At the bottom of the video, the business placed a link for consumers to its beauty gift box page on its Tmall flagship store. The set — comprising Elizabeth Arden White Tea Skin Solutions’ 50ml cleanser, 50ml essence water, 5ml micro essence gel cream, and a $25 (180 RMB) coupon — was priced at $23 (167.8 RMB).
However, according to the Shanghai regulators’ findings, the average price of 99.5 percent of China’s bubble tea is between $1.37 and $5.50 (10 RMB to 40 RMB). Hence, the bureau issued an administrative punishment as the company had not indicated the product’s price or that of the bubble tea the claim referred to, thereby misleading consumers.
The Jing Take: The Elizabeth Arden episode is a warning for beauty brands as local marketing regulators’ tighten online commerce rules.
In recent years, social platforms such as Douyin have grown to become effective channels for brands to reach young consumers, who are consuming more online, in the mainland. Last year, Chinese shoppers spent $208 billion (1.41 trillion RMB) on the short video app.
Brands are creating fresh and marketing strategies on the platform, from working with KOLs and influencers to advertising, to target younger consumers and capitalize on rising online spending.
Elizabeth Arden is not a lone case. Beauty giants such as L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, Chanel, and P&G have been fined for false online advertising.
For instance, in January last year, Estée Lauder was fined $327,000 (2.38 million RMB) for false advertising after an ad for its Night Repair Serum claimed the product boosted “youth +77%, softness +17%, smoothness +20%, and clearness +15%.”
French skincare label Avene was fined $13,740 (100,000 RMB) for exaggerating its product’s effects and using medical terms, and in last year, P&G was fined $96,180 (700,000 RMB) for derogatory remarks about women after it published an article on its official account titled Women’s feet smell five times worse than men’s.
Over the past two years, the majority of regulatory fines levied on cosmetics businesses have involved online commerce, which indicates that the supervision of cosmetics advertising is becoming stricter.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.